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Worth it? Aftermarket transmission deep pans for pickup trucks

Syleng1

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Joined
May 31, 2019
Messages
123
Location
Communist state of Connecticut
Occupation
Welder- farmer
QUESTION: I went on line to see who has the best aftermarket cast aluminum pan for my 3500 diesel pull truck (hauling equipment on trailers, not like harvest festival and truck show mud bogs). I see a lot of "For" and the same amount of "Against" for switching in a deep aluminum transmission pan over the stock pressed out tin pan.
Some people claim that the extra fluid (4+ quarts) is better with the aluminum cooling fins. The pan also add strength to the case.
Others claim the extra weight and the extra fluid does nothing but cost a lot of cash and you are better off with a aux transmission cooler and electric fan set up. The cast pan does not add any strength to the case under high torque conditions.

Everyone agrees on the drain pan plug option as a lot of stock pans do not have this.

What is your opinion?
 

funwithfuel

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Mar 7, 2017
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Will county Illinois
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Mechanic
+1 for aux cooler and fan, even just an aux cooler located "in the breeze" is going to do more for your trans than a pan. Now if you're running power adders like propane injection or overboosted turbos, a pan ain't gonna protect against grenading. Keep your converter cool and yer trans will be happy.
BTW, which of the big 3 are we talking about?
 

skyking1

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Joined
Nov 3, 2020
Messages
7,874
Location
washington
3500 either Ram or GMC
Ferd drops a zero, and a con rod, and a turbo seal, and that 6 -OH oil cooler.

Just kidding!
 

joe--h

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Jul 22, 2009
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1,259
Location
Utah
You can weld a nut into your old pan and add a drain plug, 5/16" nut is enough. Copper washer to seal the bolt and you're done. External cooler will get rid of more heat than a cast pan with fins, put the cooler in line BEFORE the existing cooler so the fluid stays at operating temp.

I've added lots of drain plugs over the years, definitely makes changing the fluid a neater job. Make sure you don't put it where it'll run into the valve body or something in the trans.

Joe H
 

f311fr1

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May 11, 2016
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700
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Middle TN
I put a Mag Hytec pan on my 06 GMC K3500 when it was new. I use it to tow boats and heavy equipment. I have never seen the trans temp over 180 degrees.
 

cfherrman

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Jun 3, 2022
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Hays, Kansas
I'd say get rid of the pickup that you got and buy a Ford as they have no need of additional cooling because they have big enough trans coolers, might 06 6.0 diesel has two coolers standard.

The additional oil capacity without extra cooling just makes you get heat soaked which might be good if you shut your truck off in the winter up north but other than that it gets you nowhere.
 

Mike L

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Dec 1, 2010
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1,979
Location
Texas
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Self employed field mechanic
Are you having issues with your transmission overheating or are you thinking you’ll be proactive?
 

Acoals

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Wisconsin
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If you are running Ford, the 5r110 and up don't need anything added, as CF mentioned. That is 2003 behind the diesel and 2005 behind the gas. If you have an older Ford with the 4r100, you need the deep pan and all the coolers you can get. A 99-2002 Super Duty with the 4r100 will bolt a 6.0 cooler right in, it is about 3x the size as the tiny stock cooler
 

Syleng1

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May 31, 2019
Messages
123
Location
Communist state of Connecticut
Occupation
Welder- farmer
So, the goal is to be proactive. Not start a war between whose truck is better.
The truck has 168k on the clock. No issues with trans temp towing since new. As a matter of fact the trans sees years of towing. No troubles at all. Owning my welding and heavy equipment company I’ve owned every brand of trucks from the big 3. They all had trans issues.

This particular truck is semi retired as a welding truck. Again, never any issues. Just being proactive. I’ve towed 18k with this truck throughout New England and never temps over 180f. But what I’ve noticed is every truck forum I go to the brand loyalty kicks in and lots of opinions and exaggerations kick in and the info gets lost. I figured a forum like this with real mechanics (like me)or people who actually drive their trucks the way they were designed for and not just a monthly dump run or a weekly Starbucks trip for the wife before a manicure. Lol.
 

1693TA

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Feb 27, 2010
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Farmington IL
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FAA Radar Engineer, (Retired)
I drive a 96 Dodge one ton with a V-10 and 46RE automatic trans. 246K on the clock. Camper, and towing packages installed from factory. Never any trans problems and that truck has had 30K behind it several times on both flat and hilly ground. Well over 100K are pulling something on a trailer. Never a transmission problem through all the years. Fluid and filter changes every first week of October biannually, and band adjustment once in it's lifetime. Nothing added other than Chrysler +4 ATF and either Napa, or Carquest filters. Universal joints are also original.

I have yet to fully floorboard the accelerator pedal too. Maybe that is a player but when everybody with a Dodge pickup in the 90's was having a trans problem, I never did. Bad frame from rust is putting it down. It broke again yesterday pulling two Grasshopper mowers on my car trailer right in front of the left rear leaf spring hanger. Not going to fix it again so the hunt for a replacement is in full swing and it will be used for parts.
 

Acoals

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Wisconsin
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So, the goal is to be proactive. Not start a war between whose truck is better.
The truck has 168k on the clock. No issues with trans temp towing since new. As a matter of fact the trans sees years of towing. No troubles at all. Owning my welding and heavy equipment company I’ve owned every brand of trucks from the big 3. They all had trans issues.

This particular truck is semi retired as a welding truck. Again, never any issues. Just being proactive. I’ve towed 18k with this truck throughout New England and never temps over 180f. But what I’ve noticed is every truck forum I go to the brand loyalty kicks in and lots of opinions and exaggerations kick in and the info gets lost. I figured a forum like this with real mechanics (like me)or people who actually drive their trucks the way they were designed for and not just a monthly dump run or a weekly Starbucks trip for the wife before a manicure. Lol.

Out with it man, what truck are we talking about . . . :cool: . . . it does actually matter, they are not all the same. It's not a brand loyalty issue, they are not all the same, even within brands. Heymc said he hasn't had trouble with Duramax's, that's because they have the Allison behind them, really no problems there, and no need for additional cooling. The 4l80E, not so much. It was a decent trans, but not so much if you are going to run hard and heavy every day.

There is not a generic answer to the question, it does matter what truck we are talking about.
 

westerner

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Sep 30, 2020
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200
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Northern Arizona
I have an '03 Silverado 2500HD, 6.0 gas and 4l80e. 200k on the clock.
Former municipal vehicle. Never pulled anything, and had every recommended service done.
I just bought a 6200 lbs (dry) travel trailer.
Should I add a cooler?
 

cfherrman

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Hays, Kansas
Allison's have their own problems too such as cracking the tail housing when you go off road, not taking any kind of extra power(that's across the board with pickups though).

I'm sorry it's not a brand thing, fords have cooling figured out. I have done stupid things in them and I've never seen any sort of trans temp even like when Ive gone up to 30k combined weight several times for hours and 28800 on my personal truck from Texas to Kansas(pic in overload of the day). Ive power braked the truck to 20 psi boost and launched and tried to get unstuck in the mud for an hour with that trailer (12k srw truck 18k trailer) rocking back and forth on several locations. Like I said two huge coolers factory, one oil to air and one oil to water. That trip from Texas at 28800 I didn't even have a clutch fan, I had 2 fans from a ford flex in the truck. Engine ran very hot but I never saw any trans temp over normal. People say the 6.0 sucks but the things I've done in one people would never do in their own truck.

Brand aside if you need or think you need more cooling get another oil to air and stick it in the front somewhere.
 

cfherrman

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Hays, Kansas
I have an '03 Silverado 2500HD, 6.0 gas and 4l80e. 200k on the clock.
Former municipal vehicle. Never pulled anything, and had every recommended service done.
I just bought a 6200 lbs (dry) travel trailer.
Should I add a cooler?

Yes, there is digital readout on that truck irc, do not under and circumstances let the trans get over the temp in the owners manual l, it will cook it immediately, your trans cooler is undersized.
 

Acoals

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Wisconsin
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Jack of all trades/Master of none
I have an '03 Silverado 2500HD, 6.0 gas and 4l80e. 200k on the clock.
Former municipal vehicle. Never pulled anything, and had every recommended service done.
I just bought a 6200 lbs (dry) travel trailer.
Should I add a cooler?

You would be fine in Northern Wisconsin where we don't have much in the way of hills and 90 degrees is something that happens twice a year, Don't know much about Arizona except it is mostly a desert and deserts are hot . . .
 

Mobiltech

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The rams I have use 2 trans coolers from factory. One is air and the other uses engine coolant.
The biggest problem with heat build up is not getting the torque converter locked up. Once you reach lockup there is very little heat generated.
I like the Aisin on my 5500 because it locks up by 25 mph and generates very little heat.
 

ippielb

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Mar 30, 2014
Messages
696
Location
Saskatchewan
I have a ATS deep pan on my 06 duramax, adding extra fluid to the system has its benefits. But i also have bigger transmission cooler lines, and transmission cooler. That's where you'll get the most benefit. My built trans i never see it get warm, not even going up mountain passes towing. EGT's are my limiting factor.
 

Truck Shop

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Dec 7, 2015
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WWW.
Mobiltech is correct. On my old 727 it had a high stall from factory, 11" converter that didn't
lockup till around 2200. I custom built it with a dash 2 shift kit and had a 12" converter
built for it {normally used in big blocks Dodge} with a lockup of 1400. No heat and it had
great throttle response.
 
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